One of my weekend pleasures is tuning into CBS Sunday Morning and seeing what the show, specifically Bill Geist, has to offer. He never fails, and my inspiration this week comes from his segment, A Tour of the Museum of Bad Art.
Housed in the basement of the Somerville Movie Theater in Massachusetts, the Museum of Bad Art is run by “Permanent Acting Interim Director” Louise Sacco, which I guess means she is always the Acting Director whenever there is no Director, and as settled into the position as she seemed, must always be the case. I also couldn’t help but notice her title spelled out PAID.
Take a few minutes to watch:[youtube.com/watch?v=p6ATZYv61IY]
Ms. Sacco left me chewing on a few quoteworthy morsels about art, for whether you realize it or not, writing is an art—a crafting of original literary compositions—as surely as any of the other fine arts.
“Bad art is, first of all, art…it’s sincere and original and something went wrong in a way that’s interesting…we’re not interested in anything that’s just boring.”
“People sometimes send us pieces that were deliberately made to be bad and you can see right through that…it’s fake bad and it shows.”
And the last is her response to the question posed by Bill at the end of the segment, “Has any artist ever sued you for defamation?” to which she answered:
“Most artists are happy to find that their work is in our museum and the reason is because artists are trying to communicate something and we are exhibiting and celebrating work…celebrating an artist’s right to fail.”
For me, this brings to mind the importance of being original versus following trends; that following trends is transparent and leaves the reader empty. Like the fake bad art, it’s not a sincere attempt at a unique piece, but a filling-in-the-blanks of a worn-out paint-by-number. Sincere and original stories—even when considered “bad”—are an artist’s right to fail, to experience growth, and if interesting enough, are “good” in their own right.
I may never create my own Mona Lisa (or War and Peace, as the case may be), but I’ll learn from each Mana Lisa, and in time, will see what work of art comes of it.
How about you? What do these quotes on originality, “bad” art, and failure mean to you? If you’re an non-writer (or not pursuing the arts) how can you apply them to your life?
ML Swift is a writer of Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult fiction, although he dabbles in many genres.
An Alzheimer’s caregiver for the past ten years, he has published several articles on The Alzheimer’s Reading Room, the largest online website catering to that community, and plans to write a novel about his experience in caregiving.
He resides in Florida with his dogs, Rameses and Buster, attempting to reclaim his side of the bed.